Returning to the dating scene after a divorce can be a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand, you may be excited at the possibility of falling in love again and doing life with someone special. On the other hand, you may still be feeling disappointed with the collapse of your previous marriage and hesitant at the thought of going through something like that again.
We’re here to help you navigate that road and merge back into dating but only when the time is right. We want to equip you with 4 things to contemplate before you start dating again. Each of them will help set you up for the best chance of success in the future.
Take Time to Recover
The most important thing to do before returning to the dating scene is to fully heal from your previous marriage. There is no shortcut for this step of the process, and it’s going to take time. We recommend giving yourself at least one year to recover without dating anyone, but depending on the length and depth of the marriage, it will oftentimes take longer.
You are doing a disservice to yourself and whoever you choose to date by trying to start a new relationship too early. Without taking the time to heal, you are more likely to project the faults of your former spouse onto the other person and inadvertently self-sabotage the relationship. Don’t make the guiltless pay for the mistakes of the guilty.
Instead, take this time to outline what you desire in a life partner. Physically write down the qualities you desire to see in a romantic companion and write down what type of person you would like to be for them also. You’re not looking for another breakup or divorce, and this small but important step will help you dodge those outcomes by identifying the right type of person from the beginning.
You’re ultimately looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with together, and with God’s help, you will know when it’s time to start dating again. Your carnal desire to be with someone for the sake of comfortability will begin to wane, and you will begin to see God’s match for you with clearer eyes. Don’t rush the process, trust the process and keep God as the main part of it.
Ask for God’s Approval
God must be at the center of your decision to date again. Singledom is not a crime, and believe it or not, biblically speaking, it’s actually the better option of the two possibilities (1Cor. 7:38). But it’s no secret, not even to Paul, that singledom is not for everyone.
So, if you know that being single isn’t one of your giftings, wait on the Lord’s approval before you start dating again. Pray for peace and healing, and if you have friends close to you that know the situation, ask them to pray for the same things alongside you. There is power in prayer, the powerful pray for the same things together (Jam. 5:16).
If and when you receive God’s approval, you won’t be guessing or anxious about choosing to resume dating. The matter will be settled in your heart, and your mind will be at peace. God will do this in His own timing because He knows what’s best for you and desires the best for you. So, please, don’t rush His process. He knows right where you are, and He will take care of you.
Once God gives you the go-ahead by providing you perfect peace, there’s only one thing left to do…
Love without Reservation
It can be easier said than done to love wholeheartedly after a divorce. It’s a natural defense mechanism for wounded hearts to shut themselves off from being emotionally available. This state of being leads to relationships that are a ticking timebomb.
These types of relationships survive until the first sign of turbulence. When conflict happens, instead of maturely handling the problem through a healthy expression of disagreement and desire for change, the previously heartbroken person will view the problem as substantiating evidence that “all men/women are the same” or something similar that reinforces their emotional unavailability.
Now, this advice is not meant to be an advocation for being emotionally careless. We still want you to take things slow and, above all, guard your heart diligently (Pro. 4:23). We’re just pointing out that truly loving someone includes opening yourself up to the possibility of being hurt by them but trusting them not to do it. This is the agape love that God has shown us, and the type of love that’s to be mimicked in marriage and shown to our spouses (Eph. 5:25).
Follow this train of logic for a moment and consider its truth. When you want to fall into love, you’re actually looking to experience something that’s rooted in God Himself (1Jhn. 4:8). When you both are looking to experience God, you’re actually falling deeper and deeper in love.
That’s why God should be at the core of every Christian relationship.